Kelsey Releases a Great White Heron

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I have had an amazing experience working at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center as a hospital intern. With working at any hospital, there are always going to be highs and lows but working at a hospital that does its best to rehabilitate wild birds drives me to push through the lows in order to get to see or hear about the success of a release.

Yes, its true that we can’t save them all. But when you see the staff do everything they can to make sure every bird, at least lives its life out at the sanctuary, that in itself makes it easier and more rewarding to work here.

I’ve seen birds come in thin, dehydrated, and just plain tired that I was so sure were not going to make it through the night no matter what we did but had the will to live and we were able to save that animals life.

Every opportunity I was given to release a bird, I jumped on because it was my favorite part of the job!

I think the most memorable release I had was getting to see a great white heron go back into the wild. Another intern and I captured the bird in the flight cage. He of course, was not happy because what wild animal wants to be handled by humans. But this was going to be his lucky day.

I held this beautiful bird in my arms as I made my way down the boardwalk. We went to the water and I counted down as a way to let myself except that he was going to finally be free in just a matter of seconds. As I let go and lifted my arms out, the heron used its long legs to push off my arm and he took off, smoothly flying just a few feet over the water. I watched as he eventually flew off into the mangroves and realized I had been smiling the whole time. Not only saving animals lives but being able to see them go back into the wild where they belong, is by far, the most amazing feeling in the world and something I will never forget.

Working at a rehabilitation center is an exhausting and challenging job but it is probably one of the most rewarding and beneficial careers an animal lover and conservationist can have!

Kelsey Clark, FKWBC Intern, 2015

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